Pumpkin pasties

I’ve been working on this recipe for a year or so now. It’s part of my pages to plate project, bringing to life the food of my favourite children’s books. Pumpkin pasties are, of course, from Harry Potter. They are sort of like a Cornish pasty, but filled with pumpkin instead of meat and potatoes. Harry Potter tried them for the first time on the Hogwarts Express, at the start of his first year, when he bought some of everything on the trolley. But they make many appearances thereafter, throughout all the books.

As much as I love pumpkin, I couldn’t deal with the idea of a whole pasty full of mashed pumpkin. I think it would just be too naturally sweet. So I’ve added some silverbeet (sometimes known as Swiss chard) to the filling, to cut the sweetness. I roasted the pumpkin with some red onion; the dark parts on the roasted vegetables give the filling a lovely complexity.

The pastry is based on the traditional recipe from the Cornish Pasty Association. If you aren’t making these for a vegetarian, I’d recommend saving up the bacon fat from your breakfast pan and substituting as much butter as you can with the bacon fat. I try to use as much as 50:50. Lard is traditionally used in pasty pastry; it gives the pastry an excellent texture. The bacon fat provides fabulous flavour. You need to use a strong flour, like the flour used for bread, pasta or pizza. This flour is higher in protein than cake flour. You need that protein for the dough to become elastic enough to produce a strong, pliable dough.

I also had great success making a vegan version, in which I substitute all the butter for copha. The copha is firmer at room temperature so it takes a bit of work to work into the flour, and will set quite hard in the fridge while it’s resting. But let the finished pastry come back to room temperature and work it up a little before you roll it out and you’ll be fine.

Pastry

245 grams butter*
500 grams strong (bread) flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
125 millilitres chilled water

* For vegans, substitute copha or another vegetable shortening. For non-vegetarians, substitute up to half of this with bacon fat or lard.

Filling

1 pumpkin
2 whole red onions
olive oil
½ bunch silverbeet*
½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg or aquafava, for brushing on the pasties before baking

*also known as Swiss chard

To make the pastry, rub the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the salt, pepper and water. Bring the dough together and knead until it’s soft and elastic. It’s good to do this with a dough hook in your electric mixer, but I have also had great success doing it by hand. Because of the fat content, it will take a little while to come together, be patient; it’s worth it.

Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for at least three hours. This resting time is important for its pliability later. I like to leave mine overnight.

To make the filling, remove the skin and seeds of the pumpkin and cut into approximately 1 centimetre cubes. Peel the onions and cut into wedges, ensuring the base of the onion holds the wedges together. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and roast, in a preheated 200oC oven until dark brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Roughly chop the onion, discarding any tough pieces from near the root of the bulbs.

Meanwhile, remove the stalks of the silverbeet. Discard any brown portions, and finely dice the remaining stalks. Roll the leaves together and finely slice, then chop the strips so you have roughly chopped pieces, about 1 centimetre long. Alternatively, you could blitz the leaves in a food processor till they were coarsely chopped. Mix the silverbeet with the cooked pumpkin and onion.

To assemble the pasties, remove the pastry from the fridge. Divide the pastry into 6-8 equal sized portions. Alternatively, if you want to make mini pasties, like I did for my Potter Picnic Party, weigh out smaller portions of the dough, so you have equal sized pieces. I think my portions were 80 grams each. Roll the dough onto a floured work surface till it’s a circle and about 5 millimetres thick. Scoop the relevant potion of filling into the middle of the pastry. Fold the pastry over and crimp the edges. Place the finished pasties on a lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash or aquafava and bake in a preheated 200oC oven till golden.

Serve the pasties warm or at room temperature.

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About Susan

Susan is the ACT Convenor of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She is currently undertaking a PhD in International Relations. Susan continues to work on the Annual Civil Society Dialogue on Women, Peace and Security.
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